I took a look at some of the most recent population numbers for the UK, the EU and the world and found a couple of real surprises in the data. Some of you may even be quite shocked by it.
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I started this little journey when I saw the latest UK population data from the Office for National Statistics.
This showed that despite a growing population that now stands at over 66.4 million, the UK had the lowest birth rate in the year to mid 2018 since 2006, when the population number was nearly six million lower than it is today.
And it also said that for the fifth year in a row, net migration at 275,000 was a bigger driver of population change than the 'natural change' of births compared to deaths, at 121,000.
The ONS went on to say that UK population growth has been stable over the last two years because increasing net immigration has compensated for the decreased natural change of births over deaths.
But if you look at this graph of UK population growth, you can see that in the last twenty years there have only been two years in 2012 and 2013 when natural change exceeded the effects of net migration and that it has been a long time since the natural change of births over deaths was the main driver of UK population growth growth.
Up until 1999 births over deaths shown in green was the main component to population growth, but since then it has been net migration shown in blue. With the overall effect increasing up until the last two years. And even then it's only fallen back to 2004 levels.
But population numbers going up and birth rates falling raised some questions. So I followed the link to the summary data tables to look at UK Total Fertility Rate, or TFR.
Now TFR is a synthetic number and according to the World Health Organisation:
"Total fertility rate (TFR) in simple terms refers to total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her life time if she were subject to the prevailing rate of age-specific fertility in the population."
And it goes on to say that according to the United Nations a TFR of 2.1 represents a global average of population replacement.
That means that a TFR of over 2.1 leads to increased population numbers and a TFR below 2.1 leads to declining population numbers.
Each country has a slightly different replacement level of TFR due to differing levels of wealth and health care etc.
In the UK the replacement TFR is about 2.075.
So let's look at the UK TFR data from the Office for National Statistics, shall we?
As you can see from this graph, UK TFR has been below the replacement rate of 2.075 since about 1972.
And look at the levels recently.
As an aside, another interesting figure, is that the average age in the UK of a first time mother, has increased over the years to stand today at thirty.
Now these TFR numbers would mean that, with zero net migration our population would have been falling since 1972, which would, of course, lead to an ageing population and fewer workers per total population numbers.
I expect those on the pro-EU side are now gleefully saying that we therefore need to stay in the EU and benefit from the freedom of movement of EU workers then, don't we? As they stare smugly at their screens.
And that brings me on to the next point.
I then researched the Total Fertility Rates for all EU countries, plus the extra EEC countries of Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein as well as throwing in Switzerland for good measure.
And you can see from this graph that not one single country out of the whole of the EU, EEC and Switzerland has a TFR level that even approaches the international replacement level of 2.1.
None of these countries can afford to see their workers leave to service the needs of another country – or should I say region of the EU.
Worse, out of the 200 countries listed on the World Population Review where I got this 2019 data from, France, which has the highest TFR in the group lies at 135th on the 200 long list of countries.
The UK is in 150th place and Portugal at the lowest end is in 193rd place – all out of 200.
At the top of the global list are 11 countries with a TFR of over five and they are: Niger, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Nigeria, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Uganda.
Another source that gives this sort of data is the CIA World Factbook and that lists estimated data from 2017.
The upshot is, that EU freedom of workers just means companies and public services across the whole EU will be chasing an ever reducing pool of available workers, having to increase their wages, but also tax them more to pay for the ageing population. And you also have to look at increasing the working age and / or decreasing benefits and pensions for the elderly.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Unless you bridge that gap.
Either by coming up with family friendly policies that encourage people to have a sustainable number of children across the piece, where you can plan education and training to meet future needs, while building a cohesive society that includes the extended family.
Or by getting as many people in the country onto the factory floor and foregoing family life while encouraging mass immigration into the EU and hope you fill the gaps along the way.
One takes forethought, planning, work and a determination to see it through over decades. The other route is quick and easy but fraught with risk.
Now, Brussels, Westminster as well as all other governments and policy makers around the world are fully aware of this situation.
So I'll leave you to figure out which route the EU and UK establishments are both intent on taking. But the real question is why.
For me, the UK needs to leave the EU then embark on the former route to forge a post Brexit UK.
Those on the pro-EU side may like to think of it as a great achievement. But, if it cannot sustain an indigenous population, it has failed. And isn't a stable family structure within society the biggest indicator of a proper human existence?
And for those thinking that the global population is growing out of control so we must sacrifice our futures to stabilise it, I have news for you.
The rate of increase is now about 1% and falling and tending towards zero. Some commentators say it may well turn negative in the next few decades leading to a falling global population – look it up for yourself.